With all that’s happening elsewhere in the Middle East at the moment the Israeli Palestinian conflict has (rightly IMO) fallen off the news cycle somewhat. Perhaps that is why when the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) released the results of a poll taken between the 10th and 12th of the month few people seemed to take any notice. The results show that support for terror attacks is prevalent among two thirds of Palestinians, those same people also support another Intifada.
That support is up from the previous poll conducted by the PCPSR in September. Furthermore the same polling shows that were elections held in the West Bank today Hamas would do pretty well:
If presidential elections are held today, Hamas candidate would win a clear victory against Abbas. If parliamentary elections are held today, Hamas and Fatah would receive two-thirds of the popular vote, one third each. But Marwan Barghouti remains Fatah’s only hope of defeating Hamas
This will come as little surprise to Israelis following events on the ground, in fact Israeli hardliners have long been arguing that there is no one to talk to and nothing to talk about with anyone in Ramallah. This poll would prove them correct.
At the moment in New York City members of the Israeli left have come together to answer questions about the Israeli Palestinian conflict under the joint banner of Haaretz and the New Israel Fund. The reason the HaaretzQ conference and the release of this latest poll are worth looking at together is because they show both the view from the ground and the airy fairy vision that has seen Israel’s peace camp shrivel up to the extent that it has to go overseas for a successful conference.
While HaaretzQ discuss such philosophical issues as whether Israel will be Jewish democratic or Jewish fanatic? or whether Israelis have the right to deny Palestinians their freedom Israelis are being killed by a few of those Palestinians while the majority watch on cheering.
The effect this has on Israeli society is clear. Settlements will grow, negotiations will happen only as a result of outside pressures if at all and the Israeli people will view with fear and apprehension the establishment of a Palestinian state. And rightly so. According to the polling such a state if democratic will likely be run by Hamas, an Islamist terror group sworn to the destruction of Israel and popular for specifically that reason. In a best case scenario a Palestine would be run by a dictatorial group of corrupt PLO officials who guarantee Israeli security by torturing and murdering their own people even while inciting those same people to commit acts of terror against Israel.
So while some Israelis sit in New York City pontificating about the future of Israel and the evils of the Israeli occupation they simply prove just how divorced they are from what’s going on on the ground in Palestine and the way Israelis are affected by that reality.
Of course it can’t be that simple.
For all of the talk about incitement that comes from Netanyahu’s office nothing can incite Palestinians like living a life under occupation. There’s no number of television programs that will make Palestinians hate Israelis in quite the same way as seeing Israeli soldiers rampage through their homes, impose curfews on their villages and cities and impose restrictions, seemingly at will on every aspect of their lives.
This is a fact of occupation.
Ocuppation is unpopular and the people doing the occupying are hardly likely to be loved by the occupied. To expect Palestinian leaders to stand up and preach to their own populace that actually they need to live with Israelis and perhaps instead of thinking that murdering them en masse would be a really good idea they should be thinking in terms of working together to mutual benefit.
The logic of Haaretz and the New Israel Fund isn’t complex, in fact it’s so ingrained into the philosophy that they barely need to say it explicitly. The terror is because of the occupation, end the occupation and you end the terror. But that same logic works both ways. While it may well be true that Palestinians hate Israel because of the occupation the same logic dictates that Palestinians and Palestinian policies are the main driver of the occupation. No Israeli politician can expect to argue that terror is a result of settlements and be taken seriously by an Israeli public that is all too aware of the anti-semitic nature of Hamas and the rhetoric of the PA and the religious hatred that even Palestinian Marxist groups have for the Jewish state.
Were Palestinians not such an implacable foe it is unlikely that the occupation would still exist, certainly not in its current form.
It is an impossible sell on the part of Israeli politicians to argue to their own populace that they need to facilitate the birth of an enemy state to be run by the very people who have dedicated their lives to the murder of Israelis and Jews wherever they find them. Not an Isaac Herzog nor a David Ben Gurion would be able to argue a policy that will inevitably result in Israelis being murdered and expect to win an election.
On the other hand the rising power of the Israeli extreme flank, the growing Palestinian population, the lack of patience on the part of the Western world and the evolution of one system of law for Palestinians and another for Jews have already lead to almost impossible to solve dilemmas for the state of Israel.
The situation has effectively placed Israeli leaders in a catch 22 situation. The result has been the lack of policy initiative of which will surely be the hallmark of the Netanyahu years. Furthermore the very man who was elected to provide Israelis with security has provided Israelis with none. Three conflicts with Gaza and now a fundamental change to the situation with West Bank Palestinians on the ground should serve as a wake up call to Israelis that the IDF has displayed the limits of what military might can achieve on its own.
All of the signs of the moment attest to the fact that despite the hand wringing over the future of Israel currently under way in NYC there is no one with a solution to Israeli’s present let alone the philosophical ideals of Israeli democracy and the future of the country’s soul.
The sad truth is that it is unlikely Israelis and Palestinians are going to do anything other than remain in a bear hug slowly squeezing the life out of one another for the foreseeable future. Inevitably something will have to give but neither side will give up on anything unless they are absolutely forced to and it doesn’t look like anyone or anything is going to be able to force these two people to live together to mutual benefit when they are currently so intent on living together to mutual harm..